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Smarty 5GB6GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtexts1month contractZeroupfront cost£5.00per monthGet DealSmarty
golden goodybagFree EU Roaming2GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£6.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
goodybag 1GBFree EU Roaming1GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£6.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
Smarty 8GB15GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtexts1month contractZeroupfront cost£7.00per monthGet DealSmarty
Smarty 50GB50GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtexts1month contractZeroupfront cost£8.00per monthGet DealSmarty
SIM Only 6GBFree EU Roaming6GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtexts18month contractZeroupfront cost£8.00per month(prices may change during contract)Get Dealgiffgaff
golden goodybagFree EU Roaming5GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£8.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
goodybag 4GBFree EU Roaming4GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£8.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
SIM Only 25GBFree EU Roaming25GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtexts18month contractZeroupfront cost£10.00per month(prices may change during contract)Get Dealgiffgaff
golden goodybagFree EU Roaming20GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£10.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
SIM Only£20 Amazon Gift Voucher when you refer a friend20GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£10.00per monthGet DealVoxi
goodybag 15GBFree EU Roaming15GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£10.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
Smarty 100GB100GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtexts1month contractZeroupfront cost£12.00per monthGet DealSmarty
SIM Only 40GBFree EU Roaming40GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtexts18month contractZeroupfront cost£12.00per month(prices may change during contract)Get Dealgiffgaff
golden goodybagFree EU Roaming26GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£12.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
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Many would argue that these days you need a mobile phone of some sort just to function in the modern world. The truth is, though, that not everyone can get a contract with a shiny new handset thrown in. Handset contracts are credit agreements, and that means credit checks.

Most of us have likely experienced a period of financial hardship at some point in our lives. So it's just as well there are still a few different ways to own and operate a mobile phone no matter how poor our credit history. Not only pay as you go – most of us are familiar with that concept, but we'll cover it further in – but also a handful of providers who won't do credit checks at all, provided you only need a SIM and that you have an unlocked mobile handset available to use. Let's take a look.

What is a no credit check SIM deal?

Broadly speaking, there are four types of mobile deal available to the general public. If you have a poor credit history you'll have access to only two of them.

  • Pay as you go SIMs – The term pay as you go (often written as PAYG) defines any SIM deal where you pay for what you use up-front. Usually in the from of something called 'top-up', which you can add to as needed. Most PAYG deals will provide you ca card so you can top-up at your local newsagent or supermarket, negating the need for a credit or debit card. Some providers, such as ASDA Mobile, allow you to buy 'SIM-only bundles' using your top-up kitty. Bundles are a set number of minutes, texts and data that last for 30 days. Bundles bought with top-up fit somewhere between PAYG and 30-day rolling contracts. Since you pay for everything upfront, PAYG deals have no need of credit checks
  • 30-day rolling SIM contracts – Like pay as you go, 30-day rolling contracts will have you pay for each 30-day period up-front. As such, many of these do not do any kind of credit checks. We have a complete list of providers that don't do credit checks in the section a bit further down, so we won't cover that here for now
  • SIM contract deals – Almost always 12 months in length, SIM contract deals will tie you in for that period. You won't get a handset, just the SIM. The benefits of tying yourself in come in the form of easy direct debit payments, less fuss and are – usually – a bit cheaper. All 12-month, pay-monthly SIM contracts come at the cost of a credit check
  • Contract deals that include a handset – With contract handsets, you're entering into a hire-purchase credit agreement on the device, as well as a contract commitment to a single provider on the SIM. As such, all pay-monthly handset deals come with a credit check, and unlike 12-month SIM deals where a an average/below average credit rating will see you through, here you will need it to be good to excellent

Who are no credit check SIM deals for?

You might think the answer to this question is pretty obvious. And it is, in part. But there is more than one type of person who may benefit from looking into a deal without a credit check.

  • People with bad credit ratings – This is the obvious one. If you've had some financial trouble in your recent past, missed payments, defaulted or even ended up with a County Court Judgment (CCJ), your credit rating – a collection of factors based on your payment history and collated by external credit agencies such as Experian and Equifax – you're going to find it hard to get a mobile contract deal
  • Students and young people – It can actually be just as hard to get credit when you have no credit history as when you've a bad one. In fact, accumulating a good credit rating is a very chicken and egg affair. You need credit accounts to build a history, you need a history to get credit. That's why if you're a student or of a young age and don't have a history, you may be stuck with choosing only those providers and deals that won't run a credit check
  • People who need flexibility – There are plenty of solutions for people who are only in need of a UK mobile for some of the year. Potentially, no credit check SIM deals are one way

Which mobile providers offer SIM deals without credit checks?

There are only a handful of providers right now that actively advertise deals with no credit checks. As for the rest? Well, it's a bit of a lottery. Discovering whether or not other providers conduct credit checks on their SIM contracts and handset contracts is easy: They all do. However, trying to unearth information about whether they do on their 30-day contract SIMs is like pulling teeth.

As a rule of thumb, it's safe to assume most of them do, though the criteria to 'pass' these checks will be considerably more lax than those levied on a handset deal. Here are the providers that don't do credit checks. Please bear in mind that giffgaff will still do credit checks on any of its contract deals, either SIM or handset.

  • giffgaff – We really like giffgaff, and so do its users. It's a odd provider in the sense that it doesn't have a traditional customer service department. Instead, users share their problems on the giffgaff forum. It's community based. Sounds like it wouldn't work, but it really does. Giffgaff is owned by Telefónica, which also owns and runs O2. That's why giffgaff runs on the O2 network
  • SMARTY – Is owned and run by Three. It differentiates itself by pitching to customers as a 'value' provider. Part of that offering is to offer SIM deals with no credit checks. Literally anyone can sign up to SMARTY on a rolling 30-day basis
  • VOXI – specialises in low-cost SIM-only deals on 30-day contracts, and doesn’t perform any credit checks. VOXI runs on Vodafone’s mobile network

Can I get a contract phone with bad credit?

In all cases, no. Sadly, the very nature of mobile phone deals that come with a handset prevent this. When you enter into a handset mobile contract you are opening a hire-purchase credit account, paying off the cost of the handset in instalments.

Right now there appears to be no ceiling to the cost of a handset, with Apple's insanely-priced iPhone 13 Pro already being shattered by folding phones from Samsung and Huawei. And that means this model is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Ultimately, it means if you want a tasty new handset, you'll have to either buy it yourself outright in a lump sum, or succumb to credit checks and hope for the best.

Frequently asked questions

Can I pay up front to avoid credit checks?

Yes. In the case of both pay as you go (PAYG) and no credit check rolling 30-day contracts you will be paying upfront. However, just because you choose a 30-day contract doesn't mean you won't be credit checked. See the section on providers of no credit check SIM deals above to be sure you won't be.

Do rolling 30-day plans accept everyone?

Not all rolling 30-day plans do, no. Only those from providers who advertise no credit checks. See above for the – short – list. Other options of course include PAYG SIMs, some of which, such as those from ASDA Mobile, offer monthly 'SIM-only bundles' of minutes, texts and data you can pay for up-front.

I have poor credit. Is a 30-day rolling SIM plan my only option?

If you want something other than a PAYG SIM deal then yes. Sadly, due to the hire-purchase nature of contract phones, and the additional value offered by providers to those willing to stick around for 12 months or more, providers need to be sure you're in a position to pay across the length of the contract. Credit checks, then, are a given.

Why do SIM contracts have credit checks?

When you take out a contract SIM, you are committing to remaining with your chosen provider for at least 12 months. Why would you do that if you could just commit for 30 days at a time? Well, because there are benefits. Contract SIMs tend to work out cheaper and offer more minutes, texts and data than their non-contract counterparts.

Why did I fail the credit check?

When you miss payments on existing credit arrangements, fail to pay your bills or default on direct debits via your bank, these organisations will report this behaviour to credit reference agencies. Equally, payments made on time are assumed by these agencies in the absence of evidence to the contrary. 'Bad behaviour' for want of a better term, stays on your record for six years. If you failed a credit check, the chances are high your credit rating is simply not good enough.

How do I investigate my credit record?

It’s recommended that you conduct a credit check once a year – you have a legal right to all the information lending companies hold on you. Both Experian and Equifax will let you check your credit record for free. Since these are the companies most creditors use to determine your credit-worthiness, you should start there. Some companies such as Credit Karma and Clearscore offer ‘free-for-life’ monthly reports; however, they will then bombard you with credit offers that ‘match’ your profile, so if you don’t want that, it may be best to just pay the small fee.